Judge tosses Herminie zoning decision
A vacant piece of property in Herminie could be developed into a discount store now that a Westmoreland County judge has overturned a Sewickley Township zoning decision denying the property owner’s request to rezone his land for business use.
The Sewickley Township Zoning Hearing Board erred on June 26, 2013, when it overruled the Sewickley Township supervisors’ approval of Jonathan C. Turik’s request to rezone his 0.68-acre property on Highland Avenue to permit a commercial development, Judge David A. Regoli ruled Oct. 22.
Rezoning Turik’s property from a rural-village classification to a community-commercial district was not improper spot zoning because there was no evidence that the property was singled out for treatment different than similar land in that area, the judge said.
The zoning board said supervisors erred in approving the rezoning request in October 2012 but followed proper procedure in making the decision.
Neighboring property owners Tracy and David Hampshire had contended in a November 2012 lawsuit that the supervisors’ decision constituted spot zoning, and the process for approving it was flawed.
The judge said that Tracy and David Hampshire did not offer any testimony that addressed the issue of spot zoning. Instead, the Hampshires questioned the potential for increased traffic and school bus issues, as well as water runoff and asbestos issues.
The judge’s decision “enables the township to develop and create business,” said Supervisor Wanda Layman, who joined Supervisor Alan Fossi in voting in October 2012 to approve Turik’s rezoning request. Supervisor Joseph Kerber opposed it.
“The whole point is to generate business into our community,” Layman said.
Herminie has not had a discount store since Bill’s Dandy Dollar on Sewickley Avenue closed about three years ago.
A developer for the Family Dollar chain of discount stores was interested in building a store at the Highland Avenue property, located between the Sewickley Township Recreation Center and the post office. A proposed site plan prepared in February 2012 showed a 7,647-square-foot store, with 23 parking spaces.
A spokesman for Family Dollar at its Charlotte headquarters could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The zoning board and the Hampshires have 30 days from when they were notified of the ruling to appeal the judge’s decision, said Daniel Hewitt, township solicitor.
Tracy Hampshire declined to comment on whether she intends to appeal.
Charles Wade, solicitor for the zoning board, said he doubts it will file an appeal. Peter Cherellia, chairman of the zoning board, could not be reached for comment.
Turik declined to comment. Turik and his wife, Kelly A. Turik, acquired the Highland Avenue property in October 2011 for $10,000, according to documents filed in the county Recorder of Deeds office.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or [email protected].